Monday, 22 May 2017

Tailored cover gives competitive edge

The demographics underlying the continuing growth of care providers are becoming so familiar that many brokers are in active competition for this business. ARAG has just introduced Care Provider Legal Solutions*, an expertly designed product to give specialist brokers the edge over conventional commercial legal expenses policies. The new product has been built around ARAG’s own claims experience over the past decade and extensive consultation with specialist agents.

Care providers come in all shapes and sizes and any of them can be subject to rigorous investigation. The new policy acknowledges this, whether assistance is given on a residential or nursing home basis, or through other registered premises including where cared-for individuals live in their own homes.

ARAG can now offer representation for care providers at coroners’ courts or fatal accident inquiries, Quality Care Commission investigations and registration disputes, Charity Commissioner appeals (plus Scottish and NI equivalents), and even 24/7 in the case of interviews under caution. Additional legal defence is available for allegations of dishonesty or violent acts. All this on top of what might be expected under the ARAG Essential Business Legal policy.

A further benefit recognises that care providers can suffer significant long-term damage to their reputation, so the crisis communications aspect of cover has been substantially increased, to £25,000.
The background to this burgeoning market is that the greater part of 10 million people aged 65+ have a long-term illness that affects their activities. Of the 1.3 million aged over 85, more than 70% have a long-term illness. During the past 25 years, the number of people in this latter category has doubled, and is expected to more than double again to 3.1 million in a similar time frame. Around a million older people and those with disabilities already live in care homes or have care provided in their own homes.

* Care Provider Legal Solutions is available under delegated authority arrangements. Where LEI is bundled as a mandatory cover the wider features may be given under the Absolute Business Legal policy.

Friday, 19 May 2017

General Insurance value measures

In January, the Financial Conduct Authority published “scorecards” for 38 insurers with the aim of informing consumer organisations which add-ons deliver the best value. The scorecards covered four products: home insurance, home emergency, personal accident and key cover, for both stand-alone and add-on products.

The scorecards show :
- the claims frequency ratio against policy volumes.
- the percentage of notified claims that are accepted, and
- the average sum paid out

Personal accident has a reasonable acceptance rate but the claims frequency is very low, with the majority of insurers disclosing sales of thousands of polices to yield a single claim. Average pay-outs varied greatly between insurers. This is probably due to products having different levels of indemnity, which would have been reflected in the premium charged. Consumers may not appreciate the impact that differently-priced product features have on the scorecard outcomes.
Unlike a “pure cash” product such as personal accident, home emergency is a service-led product which promises convenience to policyholders around the clock. The cost of delivering the product includes not only the charges paid to contractors, but the operational costs of a call centre and maintaining the contractor network. Policyholders enjoy peace of mind and they value the convenience of a single call to reach help from a quality-checked contractor. 

Home Emergency scores
•  The claims frequency for stand-alone home emergency was greater than for most add-ons, which would be reflected in the premium.
•  Add-on frequencies varied with the mode
figure being 2.5% - 4.9%. Only one insurer disclosed a lower frequency than this with four having higher frequencies.
•  The claims acceptance rate was over 90% for most insurers.
•  Average pay-outs were low as insurers engage contractors at significantly lower rates than an uninsured customer would pay, especially if an emergency same-day service is sought by the customer.
•  The scorecard does not reflect what an uninsured consumer would pay to get help for their emergency.
You can see the data yourself:
We maintain that home emergency add-ons provide great value to consumers compared to the premiums paid for stand-alone products.  Home emergency delivers reliable, rapid attendance 24/7 by a quality-assured contractor. These aspects are valued by the consumer despite being invisible to scorecard-readers, so it is important to ensure that customers are made fully aware of the benefits when buying home emergency insurance.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Good news for independents

ARAG has teamed up with the NFRN to provide legal advice and support to the association’s UK independent retailer members.

The NFRN represents more than 15,000 independent news retailers and convenience stores across the UK and Ireland, helping them to thrive in a highly competitive sector.

The new arrangement gives members telephone legal advice, a comprehensive suite of digital legal documents, and insurance against common legal disputes.

ARAG tailored the policy to meet the NFRN membership’s specific needs, particularly around the areas of cover for criminal prosecutions, regulatory and licencing matters.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Tribunal Review: Fees are here to stay

The government has reviewed the effect that fees have made on employment tribunal applications, since they were introduced in 2013, and decided that they are here to stay.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has decided that, while there is clear evidence that people have been “discouraged” from pursuing claims against employers, it is not conclusive that any have been “prevented” from doing so by the scale of the fees.
This finding from the review is somewhat surprising given the drastic drop in claims that have been brought since fees were introduced, which the MoJ itself described as “significantly greater than was estimated”.

The government has faced strong criticism from unions for putting justice beyond the reach of working people, to the benefit of bad employers. The fees come in two stages. The first fee, to lodge a claim, is either £160 or £250 depending on the type of claim. If the claim then proceeds to a hearing, an additional fee of £230 or £950 is charged. So, for unfair dismissal, discrimination, equal pay and whistleblowing claims, the employee would have to find £1,200 to have their case heard. Only those who satisfy means-tested eligibility can hope for relief from paying the fees.

The introduction of tribunal fees highlights the increasing value and importance of Before-the-Event (BTE) legal protection.  The financial barriers to accessing the justice system have grown in many areas, as legal aid has been withdrawn and the prospect of increases to the small claims court limit looms. Employment law has always been a key area of cover and advice for ARAG policyholders, who have the benefit of legal advice, digital resources and insurance against the legal costs, if they do need to bring a claim.

The government may have forced down the number of claims that are heard at tribunal, but the people who face some sort of problem at work still number in the hundreds of thousands.
ARAG’s Family Legal Solutions covers householders in the event of employment disputes and we will pay the tribunal fees and provide the legal muscle to secure a just outcome.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Extra help for policyholders making claims

ARAG has launched a series of new videos that help potential claimants understand what happens when they make use of their legal expenses policy.
Three videos are now available on YouTube or under the ‘News & Press’ section of the ARAG website. They cover various aspects of the claims process in a concise, yet information-packed format, that is very easy to follow.

The explanatory videos were shot in our Bristol offices, featuring members of the claims team.
They explain the process of making a legal expenses claim, how suitable solicitors are selected and take the mystery out of mediation. The bonus of the videos are that they can be viewed again at any time and shared with your clients.

This latest focus on customers comes at a time when use of ARAG services is rapidly rising as consumers become more familiar with policy benefits.
It is becoming more important to demonstrate the company’s brand values and yet maintain the policyholder’s primary point of contact with the intermediary that sold them the cover.